“Treat somebody badly enough you just assume they'll be happy to let you go.”
Laggies was one of my most anticipated films from 2014 for several reasons. First of all, Lynn Shelton directed one of my favorite romantic comedies from 2011, Your Sister’s Sister, with clever and witty dialogues and an interesting premise. The other reasons for my high expectations for Laggies revolves around the fantastic cast. Sam Rockwell is an actor who I could watch in any movie, but he is especially fantastic in comedies and coming of age movies (The Way Way Back being one of my favorite performances of his). Ever since Kick-Ass, Chloe Grace Moretz has been one of my favorite child actors and she has grown into a talented and charismatic teen actress. Keira Knightley has delivered in the past as well despite not being one of my favorites, and Kaitlyn Dever gave a refreshing performance in Short Term 12. The director and the cast of Laggies elevated my expectations for this film because I am a fan of everyone involved, but I wasn’t blown away by it the way I thought I would be. Laggies is still a solid coming of age film starring a talented cast with plenty of laughs focusing on a woman who is struggling to live up to her potential and going through some sort of quarter-life crisis.
In Laggies, Keira Knightley plays Megan, a 28 year old well educated woman who can’t find her vocation in life. She lives with her High School boyfriend, Anthony (Mark Webber), and keeps in close contact with her High School friend circle. They have all seemed to move on, some are getting married, others are having their first baby, and they are succeeding in the professional lives. Megan on the other hand is still working for her father and is content with holding up signs in the streets for his company. She is an adolescent trapped in the body of a 28 year old, so in a sense this is a film about adulthood. When her boyfriend proposes, she panics and decides to hide out for a week. After buying some alcohol for a group of teens she befriends them and asks if she can hang low at one of their homes for a week. Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) who lives with her single father, Craig (Sam Rockwell), offers to let her stay at their place. Jeff Garlin plays the role of Megan’s father and Kaitlyn Dever plays one of Annika’s High School friends.
Laggies balances the difficult transition that Megan’s character has to make with comedic and light humor. There is something a bit uncomfortable with the relation between Megan and the young teenagers she befriends, and when Craig confronts her about it, we feel a bit at unease. But the comedy helps lighten the mood and Sam Rockwell is so good that he makes these scenes believable. Keira Knightley gives a strong performance as well and you can feel her uneasiness and inner conflict. The true surprise of the film for me however was Kaitlyn Dever who delivers most laughs. She doesn’t get many scenes, but the few she’s in she is hilarious. Like in most of Shelton’s films she throws some curve balls along the way with some subplots we aren’t expecting, but the end is rather predictable and generic making Laggies feel like another cliched romantic comedy. I may have over-hyped this film and despite not enjoying it half as much as I anticipated I still consider Laggies a solid film that entertains despite not being groundbreaking or memorable. The thing that is fresh about Laggies is that it centers around a female character with a screenplay written by a woman so there is definitely a female voice, but the fact that Shelton didn’t write the screenplay this time was a bit of a disappointment.